The most rewarding thing about entrepreneurship is building relationships and connections. Finding people you can connect with is truly a game-changer; not just for your professional life, but also for your self-esteem and everyday joy. But, many creatives struggle to find a community of people that resonate with them and build a community of true fans. All hope is not lost. In this article, Tom and Mike will help you find your true fans who love what you do, talk about you with their friends and will be willing to buy what you are selling.
If you are in a rush, here are the key takeaways from this article:
- The ‘1000 True Fans’ theory
- Try and solve a pain point for your followers
- View your followers as an upside-down triangle
- Build a community of True Fans by being a True Fan
- Don’t be afraid to reveal other facets of your personality
- Be open to an audience outside of your circle (In fact, actively look for them)
- Try to convert your audience members into True Fans
- Always be authentic
For all the juicy stories that Tom and Mike have never shared before, click on the topics above or keep scrolling.
The ‘1000 True Fans’ theory
The idea of ‘True Fans’ was introduced by Kevin Kelly, the executive editor of Wired Magazine. In 2008, he wrote an essay called ‘1000 True Fans.’ The idea behind it was simple – you can build a business by finding 1000 True Fans. He defined a True Fan as someone who would drive 200 miles to see you talk at an event, reach out to you just to connect or buy any product you deliver because they value your insight. The crux of the article was – if you can find 1000 true fans and charge them $100 a year for your products or services, you can build a six-figure business.
While it is unattainable for most to get 4 million followers on Instagram or Youtube like many influencers, finding 1000 people to sell them a $100 product is far more realistic.
Tom had an audience of 15 million but recognised that they weren’t true fans. He did what marketers wanted him to do – get big traffic numbers using vanity metrics. However, it didn’t help him build his business. Since he did not share a close relationship with his audience, it was a hollow community.
Later when he started his company, he decided to pay more attention to engagement and relationship-building, not caring too much about revenue numbers. He became good friends with his first 200 customers. This became the seed from which his business grew. He realised that it is more important to delight your true fans than focusing on getting new ones.
So, who are your True Fans?
A true fan is someone who shares the same beliefs as you. Connect with fans who add value to your life and they will help you thrive.
Mike divides his followers into four segments:
- Followers he has never interacted with
- Followers who tag him in their content
- Followers who make up his primary channel
- Followers who send him direct messages and who he believes are his true fans. He makes it a point to reply to them as soon as possible.
How to Find Your True Fans
Try and solve a pain point for your followers
The people who follow you will become your true fans if you’re able to solve a problem or bridge a service gap for them, thereby eliminating a pain point in their life.
For example: When Mike was freelancing, he had trouble talking to a client about money. Upon learning, he shared insight about talking to clients about money because he knew how difficult it was for him in the past. An audience member had the same pain point and therefore became his true fan.
View your followers as an upside-down triangle
If you look at an upside-down triangle, the ones at the top are your followers while the ones at the bottom are your truest fans. As you descend, the number of fans will keep decreasing. Even if you have one, to begin with, it’s a great start!
Together, Tom and Mike have a community of 140,000 followers on Instagram – the widest part of their triangle. Out of those, only a few see their content, let’s assume around 50,000 people. Then a smaller majority, assuming 20,000, may see their Instagram stories and swipe up to the call-to-action button.
Tom and Mike’s experience with Biz Buds: With a small teaser and talk on Instagram about their Biz Buds podcast, about 500 people tuned in to episode one. By the 9th episode, assuming they still had 500 people who subscribed, only 300 people heard their podcast. The level of engagement from these 300 people points to them being true fans. Those 300 people were then asked to send them a direct message that very moment. The ones who responded to this instruction were their truest fans – around 10-20 listeners. Mike offered to follow these listeners so that they could together begin a relationship. This is a great example of how to position yourself in the marketplace. Try to help and inspire those in need.
Build a community of True Fans by being a True Fan
You and your community can truly benefit from mutual fanhood. When people like Tom’s posts, he makes sure to not just comment but also take a look at their profile and check out their work. He then sends them a direct message and personally thanks them for their support. This helps in community-building.
For example: Mike has a true fan from India who is in the design community. She has built over 25000 followers not only because of her content but also because she is a true fan of many people. She tries to create honest relationships with people.
Pro tip: Instagram Threads is another app where you can customize your notifications based on who messages you. This leads to a real human interaction that adds value to the relationship.
Don’t be afraid to reveal other facets of your personality
To find like-minded people, it is important to reveal other facets of your personality. You can do this by sharing what food you like to eat, the kind of movies you like to watch, who your favourite actor is, etc.
For example: Mike via Instagram Stories talks about how he loves spending time with his family, going to movies, collecting comic books and listening to music by Led Zeppelin and Enya. This helps him become relatable to his audience. The more authentic you are, the better the chances are of you finding people you can connect with.
Be open to an audience outside of your circle (In fact, actively look for them)
The simplest way to build a new audience is by engaging with people who are very active on social media. This will help you create a brand new audience.
For example: Dane Walker goes into people’s comments section and finds those who are extremely active and always commenting. He then befriends them by interacting with them. Eventually, they become a part of his community.
Focus on those who share your content or initiate conversations with you via social media as they have a genuine interest in what you do.
For example: Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York on Instagram where he wrote stories about the people in New York City. He would take pictures of couples sitting on park benches, the homeless etc and post them on Instagram with a snippet of their story. This became so popular that he now has a Patreon page where people donate money for more content. You can give him $1.50 to $100 per month, depending on how much you want to support him and Humans of New York. Over 18,674 people are giving him at least $1.50 per month. He is supported by his true fans so he can keep providing them with fresh content. You could begin with any amount you think is comfortable for your fan.
Try to convert your audience members into True Fans
If you notice people trying to talk to you, reach out to them via DMs or give them a public shoutout. Build real engagement by talking to them regularly. Add them to your Instagram stories, make them feel valuable. This will help you build a rock-solid relationship with them. When Mike wrote his book, ‘Burn Your Portfolio’, people started to recognise and follow him even before he began sharing educational content. He showed his gratitude by offering them free coaching lessons and replying to their messages.
Pro tip: The smaller the audience, the higher the percentage of true fans. If you have 200 followers, chances are that you already have 20%-30% true fans amongst them.
Always be authentic
If someone doesn’t like your content, understand that it may not be for them. That’s when you need to let them go.
Sean Wes is a great content creator. However, Tom doesn’t relate to his content too closely as compared to some other creatives because they are different people and that’s totally okay.
Similarly, there are always going to be people who don’t relate to you, agree with you or even send you hateful comments. Remember to value the people who appreciate your work instead of the small percentage who don’t. Don’t try to please them. Be your authentic self and care less about those who don’t connect with you.
Pro tip: Find 20 people who genuinely value you and can spend $10,000 a year for your business. This results in a $200,000 business. All you need to find is 20 people for this model. Break it down to how many true fans you have. Finding true fans is a by-product of building real relationships.
In conclusion, your audience and you share a symbiotic relationship. When you provide real value to them, they become loyal fans. Relationships have more value than money, so try building connections first. Just like with friends, financial transactions should be the by-product of that relationship rather than the objective.